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IRS Releases Final Instructions for Forms 1094-B/1095-B and 1094-C/1095-C

The IRS recently released final instructions for the 2016 Forms 1094 and 1095.  Highlights of the changes and clarifications included in the final instructions are provided below. While a of the few items are “neutral” and merely reflect pre-programmed changes under the Affordable Care Act that were already known and set to occur, many of the changes and clarifications are welcome news. Form 1094-B Highlights There are no substantive changes for 2016. View the 2016 Form 1094-B here. Form 1095-B Highlights The statement, “Do not attach to your tax return. Keep for your records.” was inserted underneath the main heading, suggesting that the form will continue to not be required for direct substantiation purposes as part of a personal income tax filing in the future. Part I, Lines #2 and #3 and Part IV, columns (b) and (c) have been updated to reflect that TINs may be substituted for SSNs.… Continue Reading

ISS 2017 Global Voting Policy Survey Results

Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. (“ISS”) recently released the results of its annual global voting policy survey. Respondents include institutional investors, corporate issuers, as well as consultants and advisors to public companies. Survey responses provide helpful insight into the current views of influential institutional investors in addition to signaling changes to ISS voting policies. This year’s survey was light on executive compensation related questions but did provide helpful feedback on two topics. (1) Frequency of Say-on-Pay: 66 percent of institutional investors favor annual say on pay votes, consistent with current ISS policy. (2) Pay for Performance Metrics: 79 percent of institutional investors support the incorporation of financial metrics, in addition to total shareholder returns, into the ISS pay-for-performance models that identify potential misalignments between CEO pay and company performance. The three most popular alternatives were return on investment metrics (e.g., return on invested capital), return metrics (e.g., return on assets or… Continue Reading

Reminder to Send Out HIPAA Privacy Notice Reminders

A HIPAA Notice of Privacy Practices must be provided to new group health plan participants at the time of enrollment and within 60 days of a material revision. In addition, participants must be notified of the availability of the notice at least once every three years. This requirement can be satisfied by distributing either a copy of the notice or a reminder of the availability of the notice. A reminder of the availability of the notice can be included in annual enrollment materials or other plan publications sent to all participants. For example, group health plans that distributed a new Notice of Privacy Practices in 2013 when the final HIPAA regulations were issued should ensure they have satisfied this reminder requirement in 2016.

Haynes and Boone Oilfield Services Bankruptcy Tracker – Updated September 30, 2016

As a service to energy industry participants, the lawyers of the Oilfield Services and Bankruptcy Practices at Haynes and Boone, LLP have been tracking and reporting industry developments in oilfield service restructurings. Our research includes details on 100 bankruptcies filed since the beginning of 2015, including secured and unsecured debt totals for each case. The total amount of aggregate debt administered in oilfield services bankruptcy cases in 2015- 2016 is more than $14 billion and the average debt of these cases exceeds $144 million. The largest reported bankruptcy cases involve total debt of approximately $2.7 billion (Vantage), $2.5 billion (Paragon Offshore), $1.7 billion (Seventy Energy), $1.3 billion (Hercules Offshore) and $1.3 billion (C&J). The latest Oilfield Services Bankruptcy Tracker Report is available here. Full link: http://www.haynesboone.com/~/media/files/attorney%20publications/2016/ofstracker.ashx

Federal District Court in Texas Rules on Cigna’s “Fee Forgiveness” Protocol in the Administration of Medical Benefit Claims

The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas recently ruled on motions for summary judgment by both parties in North Cypress Medical Center Operating Company, Ltd v. Cigna Healthcare, holding that Cigna’s application of its “fee forgiveness” protocol (the “Protocol”) in the administration of benefit claims for medical services rendered by North Cypress was legally incorrect and constituted an “abuse of discretion” under ERISA.  Cigna performed claims administration services as a third-party service provider for employer-sponsored, self-funded group medical plans and as the insurer under employer-sponsored, fully-insured group medical plans (collectively, the “Plans”).  North Cypress was an out-of-network healthcare services provider (an “OON Provider”) that offered to waive or discount patients’ cost-sharing obligations in exchange for prompt payment for its billed services.  When North Cypress submitted the patients’ benefit claims to Cigna, Cigna applied the Protocol, which significantly reduced or denied the claim payments to North Cypress based… Continue Reading

IRS Makes Updates to EPCRS

On September 29, 2016, the IRS released Rev. Proc. 2016-51, which sets forth the comprehensive Employee Plans Compliance Resolution System (“EPCRS“) and supersedes Rev. Proc. 2013-12 (i.e., the most recent comprehensive statement of EPCRS). The modifications to EPCRS made by Rev. Proc. 2016-51 were primarily ministerial (e.g., making certain changes in response to modifications made to the IRS’s determination letter program). One noteworthy change, which will become effective January 1, 2017, is that the IRS will no longer refund 50% of the user fee in connection with anonymous voluntary correction program submissions for which an agreement cannot be reached. View Rev. Proc. 2016-51.

ACA Reporting Guide and Final Forms

The IRS has issued a guide for electronically filing ACA information returns (i.e., Forms 1094/1095). Employers who submit their own Forms 1094/1095 through the AIR System may want to review this guide in preparation for filing in January 2017. The IRS also issued the 2016 instructions and final forms for Forms 1094-B and 1095-B, with minor changes from the 2015 versions.

DOL Settles with Group Health Plan Over Findings of Affordable Care Act and ERISA Violations

The DOL issued a press release announcing its recent settlement with fiduciaries of a group health plan (the “Plan”) sponsored by Sierra Pacific Industries, a major western lumber producer. The press release followed the conclusion of a DOL investigation that determined the Plan did not comply with the Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) and ERISA in certain respects. In particular, the DOL found problems with the Plan’s claims processing, with the clarity of the Plan’s documents, and with the application of the Plan’s procedures for deciding claims. In addition, the DOL found the Plan had been administered erroneously under ACA “grandfathered status” since January 1, 2013. As a result of this investigation, the Plan’s fiduciaries agreed to (i) revise the Plan’s documents and internal procedures; (ii) re-adjudicate past claims for preventive services, out-of-network emergency services, claims affected by an annual limit, and pay claims in compliance with the ACA and ERISA;… Continue Reading

Supreme Court Issues Stay in Pending Church Plan Case

On Wednesday, September 21, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered a stay in the ongoing church plan litigation involving the pension plan of Dignity Health, a healthcare system affiliated with the Catholic Church. Earlier this year, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held that Dignity Health’s pension plan did not qualify as a church plan because it was not established and maintained by a church or a convention or association of churches, but rather by a non-profit organization merely affiliated with a religious organization. Consequently, Dignity Health’s plan would no longer be exempt from ERISA. Dignity Health appealed the Ninth Circuit’s ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, but the Court has yet to announce whether it will hear that appeal or the appeals filed in two other church plan cases involving the pension plans of Advocate Health Care Network and Saint Peter’s Health System. The Supreme Court’s order… Continue Reading

PBGC Issues Final Rule for Penalty Relief for Late Premium Payments

The PBGC issued a final rule implementing relief for penalties resulting from late payment of premiums. The final rule implements the changes reflected in the proposed rule published in April.Under the final rule, if the plan sponsor corrects the delinquency before being notified by the PBGC, the plan would be responsible for a monthly penalty of 0.5 percent of the late premium amount and, if the plan corrects the delinquency after being notified by the PBGC, it would be responsible for a monthly penalty premium of 2.5 percent. These penalties are reduced from 1 percent and 5 percent, respectively. In addition, if the sponsor has a good payment history and pays promptly after receiving the PBGC notice, the PBGC will waive 80 percent of the 2.5 percent penalty payment. Read the final rule.

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